THE Cambodian Wushu Federation, together with the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Education, held its four-day national championships over the weekend at Olympic Stadium. Male and female competitors - 232 of them - drawn from ten clubs and schools predominantly based in the capital, started the event on Friday, with winners progressing to the final rounds on Tuesday morning.
In total, 26 separate events were contested, with the federation hoping to find a selection of competitors to represent Cambodia at the SEA Games in Laos this December.
Participants competed in modern Wushu's two main disciplines, Taulu and Sanshou.
Taulu involves martial art patterns and movements, for which competitors are judged and given points according to specific rules. The forms are comprised of basic movements, including stances, kicks, punches, balances, jumps, sweeps and throws, with added difficulty and style marks attributed to aerial techniques such as 540- and 720-degree jumps and kicks.
Sanshou differs from Taulu in that it is a contact sport influenced by traditional Chinese boxing, with Chinese wrestling and grappling techniques also evident. In appearance it is similar to the Cambodian boxing discipline, Pradal Serey, although the use of elbows and knees is prohibited in Taulu.
Tai Chi Phnom Penh Club dominated the Taulu events, winning five gold medals. Ly Tithsamnang, Bhan Doeun, Tang Mengheang and Ek Sophara all won individual golds in the tai chi chuan events, whilst the team gold was awarded to the club following a graceful and stylish display by Doung Khemna, Thea Yunghuo and So Huy. Other notable winners in the Taulu events included the youthful and diminutive Sen Soksamnangsophea of Sopheak Mongkol Club (2 individual golds), and Mohi Channida of Phnom Penh's Kongfu Club, who gained two golds in the under-16 female class.
Honours in the Sanshou were shared by four clubs; Baktouk High School, Kongfu Club, O'Russei Club and Vo Shu Sanshou Club. The 45-kilogram class was won by Huol Banraksmey; 48 kilograms by Than Sovannarith; 52 kilograms by Ly Senhar; 56 kilograms by Sen Sakshunnara; 60 kilograms by Sham Thlar; 65 kilograms by Veing Virak and 70 kilograms by Nin Ko Solramhet. The female competition was not governed by weight restrictions and was eventually won by Lunh Sreypich, following a hotly contested final bout.
Although the Cambodian Wushu Federation's General Secretary, Mao Chan Thavuth, was unavailable for comment at the event, a representative expressed delight at the success of the five-day tournament. "The sport is still young in Cambodia, and that is reflected in the fact that all of the clubs are based in and around the capital."
The federation official noted that standards were improving every year, admitting that, although Cambodia is not yet ready to mount a serious challenge for medals at the SEA games, great experience will be gained.
Although the number of spectators at the tournament was low, Tuesday witnessed a neatly arranged medal ceremony for the winners, in front of family and friends.